Decorating Christmas trees, the natural way

 

Local plant enthusiasts are showing that Christmas tree decoration need not be all about tinsel and shiny baubles. 

The Garden Club of Grand Cayman and the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park are displaying Yuletide trees decorated with natural ornaments. 

At the park’s gift shop entrance is a beach willow Christmas tree, one made from pieces of driftwood, another from coconut parts, one made from seashells, a regular pine tree and a live Australian “bunya bunya” tree. 

The 20-foot-tall bunya bunya tree is decorated with garlands of sea grape tree leaves threaded with fishing line, twigs and other painted foliage.  

“It is the largest living decorated Christmas Tree on display – that is, unless someone can prove otherwise,” said Mike Ferrero, the park’s assistant manger. 

He explained that the tree’s cones, used by Australian aborigines, are a source of protein. “They would either eat [the cones] fresh, boiled, sprinkled with salt or buried them in the mud to preserve for later days,” he said. 

The tree’s pine cones, about the size of an American football, fall to the ground and smash. The cone segments contains seeds the size of a chicken egg, shaped like a corn kernel. 

The driftwood tree is made from collected driftwood. A dried juniper tree is decorated sea dollars and sea shells, while a dried Cayman agave hangs with star fish and conch shell horns. 

“I think people should, if they can … grow their own Christmas tree.” Mr. Ferrero said. “There is so much you can do with it and you don’t have to worry about it spoiling, removing it, shredding or importation. It is something you can grow here and use all year round. It just takes a bit of pruning to keep it in shape.” 

Botanic-Gardens-Christmas-Trees

Visitors gather around the decorated “bunya bunya” tree at the Botanic Park. – Photo: Jewel Levy
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